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We don't have to learn English!
Old 1st December 2009, 02:42 PM   #1
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Default We don't have to learn English!

Words flail me
TONI JORDAN
December 1, 2009

LET'S face it, if you were born in Australia like me, you've won the karmic jackpot. Not only do we have golden soil, wealth for toil and boundless plains to share*, but here's another benefit: We don't have to learn English.

In an article last month, ''French Brain Expert''** Stanislas Dehaene confirmed that English is the worst language to learn to read. Apparently it takes students at least two years to learn English. Italian, on the other hand, is a pushover language that anyone can pick up in a few months, FBE Dehaene says.

Please don't misunderstand: I am quite besotted with English. Words like chortle and gargoyle and ought and prop. Aardvark. Catatonic. They feel unctuous (that's another good one), like a mouth full of boiled lollies and treacle. One of my earliest memories of reading is of lying on the floor of my room, way after bedtime. My parents would be in the lounge room watching TV, and a small triangle of light would peek through the crack of my partly open door. I would sneak out of bed and wedge a Dr Suess book in the light so I could keep reading. The trick was to be close enough to the light to read the pages but not so close that my parents could hear me saying the words over and over, otherwise the game was up and it was back to bed for me.

Regardless of its beauty and precision, however, English is a bugger to learn. My favourite example of the illogic that our immigrants are forced to deal with is this: ''ghoti'', in English, is pronounced fish.

Sounds ridiculous, but it's true. Take the ''gh'' from ''rough''. Take the ''o'' from ''women''. Finally, add the ''ti'' from ''motion'', and what do you get? Fish.

This is clearly ridiculous. How on earth does anyone learn this language?

Maybe I identify so strongly with the difficulties of learning English because I have always struggled with pronunciation. As a child I was an early and fast reader, and always understood exactly what the words on the page meant. But these words spoken seemed completely different to my pea-sized brain, as if written and oral English were two separate languages.

A major difficulty was ''immediately''. I knew what it meant in a book: ''at once'' or ''instantly''. But in my head, this word was ''imi-date-ily''. The word ''immediately'', as spoken? I didn't have a clue what that meant. It can't have meant the same as imidateily, because they sound a bit similar and that would be too much of a coincidence. In a similar vein, I remember reading ''Pride and Pre-Judas-sea'' in my early teens.

And I can't just blame this on my childhood. I was well into my 30s before a kind friend finally told me that the French philosopher was not Albert Camoose.

So here's to everyone who has learnt English as a second language, my long ago ancestors from Alsace included. We native-borns can't and don't appreciate the dedication and hard work that it takes. These are the qualities that hundreds of years of migrants from non-English backgrounds have brought us. This is one small way these brave people have made us a richer and smarter country today.

* Dear Mr Rudd: Please note the national anthem contains no riders or exclusions re said plain sharing. And I'm pretty sure it's ''plain'', as in ''an area of relatively flat land''. Not ''plane'', as in, ''if you arrive fleeing danger we'll pop you on the first plane outta here''.

** How do you get a job like that? I've never seen that advertised in MyCareer. And so specialised! Are French brains really that different from other kinds?



SOURCE: The Age
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Why you don't have to learn English?
Old 3rd April 2012, 04:09 AM   #2
georgz
 
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Default Why you don't have to learn English?

I just want to ask you if you have any idea about mineral exploration services, have you heard it?
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